Major cities such as Auckland, Nairobi, Seattle and Vancouver now get the majority of their electricity needs from renewables such as hydro, geothermal, solar and wind.

The list, compiled by non-profit CDP, is more than double the 42 cities that reported that they were powered by at least 70% clean energy in 2015.

With cities thought to be responsible for 70% of energy-related CO2 emissions, researchers insist there is “immense potential” for them to lead the global low-carbon transition.

“Reassuringly, our data shows much commitment and ambition,” said CDP director of cities Kyra Appleby.

“Cities not only want to shift to renewable energy but, most importantly – they can. We urge all cities to disclose to us, work together to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and prioritize the development of ambitious renewable energy procurement strategies. The time to act is now.” 

Clean switch

Some cities named in the report are already powered by 100% renewable electricity. Reykjavik, Iceland sources all electricity from hydropower and geothermal, and is now aiming for all vehicles to go fossil-free by 2040.

Elsewhere, Basel’s own energy supply company powers the city’s electricity, mainly through hydropower, while Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, now obtains 100% of its electricity from wind, solar, hydro, and biomass.

Indeed, 58 US cities and towns have now committed to transition to 100% renewable energy, in spite of the Federal Government’s decision to pull the country out of the US Paris Agreement. Earlier this month, Denton in Texas and St. Louis Park in Minnesota became the latest communities to establish such targets.

Closer to home, there is a growing momentum among British regions to commit to clean energy.

CDP’s analysis comes on the same as the UK100 network of Local Government leaders announced that more than 80 UK towns and cities, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Glasgow have committed to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

CDP claims that global cities are currently instigating renewable energy developments valued at $2.3bn across 150 projects. This forms part of a wider shift by cities to develop 1,000 clean infrastructure projects worth more than $52bn, including electric transport and energy efficiency.

George Ogleby

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